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How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: An Open Letter to Joseph Barton

Hey kids, want to be an ungrateful thug? Uncle Joey knows how!
Hey kids, want to be an ungrateful thug? Uncle Joey knows how!

Dear Mr. Barton,

You don't know me, nor should you. In spite of your loud articulations of being a "man of the people," your recent comments and actions have shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are little more than another pig-headed, arrogant, delusional man who gets played a sport cherished by starving children in Africa using twigs as goal posts. I, on the other-hand, a lowly writer for a blog where you used to play and a high school teacher by trade, couldn't even begin to fathom the pains and aches you went through as a member of the Newcastle United Football Team. It must have been so difficult and arduous making insane amounts of money playing a game, and I can only imagine the insult and disgust you must have felt when Mr. Llambias offered you a bonus that was in keeping with Sports Direct (that's the owners, by the way) company policy.

Mr. Barton, I suppose we should begin with the positives. You played 81 for games for us over four years, you wore your heart on your sleeve, you were passionate, committed, and a damn fine player. That's about all that needs to be said about that. On the flip side, you also consistently found yourself on the wrong end of discipline, both on and off the pitch. In December of 2007, you assaulted two men so violently that you were sentenced to six months in prison (and set a terrible example for LSU Quarterbacks to apparently follow), and upon your return to the pitch perpetuated a reputation of the dirtiest player around (even Nigel De Jong was appalled at your clip of Nasri). You once assaulted a teammate while at Manchester City, though it's hard to fault you for that given the systematic violence that overwhelmed our own training ground for so long. You even took to calling the Toon Army vicious at points in the early days of your stint at NUFC. (More after the jump)

Following relegation, you seemed a tad reformed. You were working well under the strong influence of captain Kevin Nolan, and were even cleaning up your play on the pitch. You seemed to be a valuable locker room presence during those 09-11 seasons. Hell, you were even tipped for England at a point, though you claimed your reputation preceded you unfairly. Everything was going well, it seemed, but then in December of 2010, Newcastle sacked Chris Hughton, and you reacted with vitriol alongside the fan base. Alan Pardew, by all counts a class act, came in seemed to soothe things over for a while, even trying to patch up an extension with you, but with the sale of Andy Carroll in the January transfer window, you began a long a string of publicly deriding the management of the club you served.

When the offseason rolled around, the mood at St. James's Park was bleak indeed. 11th was disappointing given our form in the final months, and the loss of Carol still stung deeply. It was around this time that I began writing for Coming Home Newcastle, and I brought with me a hopeless optimism that we might actually be able to put a respectable team on the field, perhaps even featuring yourself as skipper. When Kevin Nolan left for West Ham, you tweeted the hashtag #mejonasandjosenext, implying that yourself, Jose Enrique, and Jonas Gutierrez were prepared to jump ship, and again derided the management publicly, even going so far as to claim that they had "No idea what it means to wear the Black and White."

In a sense, Mr. Barton, you are correct. Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias do not have any idea what it is like to wear the black and white, especially not the black and white of the later half of the past decade. That is the team that would get into scuffs both on the field and on the training ground, the team that consistently had players in trouble with the law off the field, and the team that got relegated. Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias indeed do NOT know what that is like, because their vision of the Black and White is something bigger, something better, something quality. You represent everything about the "old" Newcastle that a new generation of fans will soon come to detest. You're crass, you're classless, and you have about the same savvy as a drunken Wall Street accountant in September of 2007.

And now, this most recent development. When you were exiled from the club late in the offseason and eventually shipped off to Queens Park Rangers, I was one of the few around who was happy to see you leave. Your "replacements," the visceral and raw Chieck Tiote, the scintillating and spectacular Yohan Cabaye, and the amazingly promising Gabriel Obertan, have been absolutely outstanding, and have done so without tweeting disruptive comments and ruining morale for no apparent reason. Since leaving Newcastle, you've seemed to adopt an attitude of sour grapes and fury at the management who so wisely showed you the door, after many an attempt at tangible redress, I might add.

Your admission that much of the row near your last days at Newcastle came from a locker room dispute regarding a bonus, during which management attempted to give a you bonus proposal. You put it thusly:

In their opinion we were paid workforce. They thought we were Sports Direct and we should do what the subordinates at Sports Direct do, forgetting they were dealing with 20-odd egos, probably 10 self-sufficient men in a position to make a number of different judgements.

While it may come as a shock to you, Mr. Barton, you were, in fact, a paid employee of Sports Direct, and it was due to Mike Ashley's financial commitment to the club that were able to wear the "Black and White" at all. This quote also calls into the question the absurd fact that you believe the egos of football players should somehow enter into a business decision making process... about a bonus, none the less. What on earth was the rest of the team, those who were not "self-sufficient men," supposed to do when you (and a cadre that you manipulated or bullied into going along you) balked at the offer? And all of this, Mr. Barton, is over a bonus?

I understand that athletes deserve to get paid a fair amount as consumers are constantly handing over money to consume their product. At the same time, have a little humility and realize how lucky you are... or at the very least, just STFU. You're not making any friends by slamming Llambias, whose response was brilliant, about an issue that appears to be completely dead in the water at NUFC. When Alan Pardew came in he worked diligently to clean house and create a team modeled after his image. You, Joey Barton, were the trash that needed to be cleaned out.

It is unfortunate that I write this and clog the front page the day before an epic clash against Chelsea, and in the wake of tragedy of Gary Speed. Pardew and the other management has taken the high road wonderfully, simply asking that quiet down and let us focus on football. We are United, we are fourth, we are a team of class, and you are a scumbag.

I'd like to end with one more quote you said during your recent rant:

"I would rather walk away with my dignity and self-respect intact and I feel I have done that."

Joey, I have some news for you. You lose dignity and self-respect when you sit in prison cells for assaulting people. You lose dignity and self-respect when you balk at a bonus offer while tons of other employees struggle to get by. You lose dignity and self-respect when you perpetually pester your former club's management looking for a spot of attention. You left with no dignity, and while you may respect yourself, the Toon Army is rapidly losing any and all empathy we once shared with a hotheaded Liverpudlian with a penchant for hitting people and tweeting stupid things. I can not emphasize my final point enough: good riddance.

Very Respectfully,
John Murphy
Member: Toon Army